When The Knot (Nasdaq: KNOT) shareholders hooked up with the wedding-planning website, did they commit to stand by the company in sickness and in health?

That patience is being tested, with shares of the company hitting a two-year low after last week's earnings report.

The quarterly numbers weren't exactly cut out for the honeymoon suite. Revenue inched just 13% higher to $23.8 million. Earnings closed in at $0.02 a share, well below the $0.05 a share it earned a year ago.

Thankfully, the real The Knot is prettier once you lift the veil to plant a big wet one. Revenue growth was weighed down by flatness in the company's merchandise and bridal registry businesses. When it comes to online advertising, the real driver at the company, that segment was up a robust 20% during the quarter.

The company also took an impairment charge of $1.1 million, net of taxes, related to its investments in auction-rate securities. Wipe out the charge, and the company's bottom line would have been in line with last year's performance.

Is this the breakaway speed that growth stock investors were hoping to get from the company? No. However, it's good to see The Knot hold up well in these uncertain times. People will still get married in tricky economic straits; they'll just be more cost-conscious about the big day.

That could also explain why high-end engagement ring specialist Blue Nile (Nasdaq: NILE) had such a lackluster quarter, while low-priced jewelry hotbeds like Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK) and Bidz.com (Nasdaq: BIDZ) grew nicely.

The Knot is growing, even after years of ad rate hikes that could have scared wedding service providers away.

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* Source: The Knot, third-quarter 2007 conference call.

Is The Knot just that skilled, or are online lead-generating sites gaining at the expense of more conventional marketing? Companies like LoopNet (Nasdaq: LOOP) and InsWeb (Nasdaq: INSW) are doing just fine, despite weakness in commercial real estate and insurance respectively.

This doesn't mean that The Knot is golden. You don't erase two years of gains by doing the right thing. One also has to take the company to task for failing to grow its registry business, after the logical synergies that resulted from its WeddingChannel.com purchase. However, hanging in there in a tough time for big-ticket expenditures is a relative victory for The Knot.

Shareholders just hope that "in sickness and in health" morphs into "in slickness and in wealth" sooner rather than later.

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